ntiktinsky_39014's blog

Nadja Tiktinsky - Bookseller in Manchester

Children's books are what I like best and read most, but I'll throw the occasional adult novel into the mix! I have an MFA in Children's Literature and teach high school English and creative writing in addition to working as a Northshire bookseller.

Ophie’s Ghosts by Justina Ireland - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780062915894
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Published: Balzer + Bray - May 18th, 2021

Historical fiction set in 1920s Pittsburgh, where Ophie and her mother work as servants in Dandelion Manor, home of cruel and prejudiced Mrs. Caruthers. Ophie is able to see ghosts, and the manor is haunted by droves of them. Advised by her great-aunt, who can also see the haints, Ophie knows better than to engage with them - ghosts are shells of their former selves, and will sap energy and even life from people if given the chance - but she recklessly begins to befriend one of them, a young woman whose life ended mysteriously and violently within the Dandelion Manor itself. I loved that this book brings the Jim Crow South and the racist North into discourse and discusses both colorism and passing. In addition to the spectacular plot and premise, the writing is beautifully atmospheric. Places, like the manor house, railroad train, and Pittsburgh itself, have POV chapters scattered throughout the book, framing Ophie's story within the historical context of the city. ~ Reviewed by Nadja Tiktinsky

How to Become a Planet by Nicole Melleby - Book Review

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ISBN: 9781643750361
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Published: Algonquin Young Readers - May 25th, 2021

Read for a good, healthy cry. Thirteen-year-old Pluto has been officially diagnosed with depression after feeling so sick that she was unable to go to school for the last month of seventh grade. Participating in her life and acting like her old self feels just plain impossible. This summer, she has to make up the schoolwork she missed, start seeing a therapist, and spend time acting "normal" with her friends. if not, she risks being held back in school and sent to live with her father in the city, where she'll have better access to mental-health resources but zero access to the familiarity of her regular, pre-diagnosis life. At the heart of this difficult, brave book is one Big Question: Does post-diagnosis Pluto still count as Pluto, or has she been irreparably changed? I loved that Melleby leans into murky complexity and gives grace to a struggling kid, letting terrible things happen without gloss or neat resolution and trusting her protagonist and readers to push through. ~ Reviewed by Nadja Tiktinsky

Switch by A.S. King - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780525555513
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Published: Dutton Books for Young Readers - May 11th, 2021

A technicolor fever dream, like everything King writes. All time in the world has stopped and a new, false clock has been constructed so that everyone can pretend time is moving forward. Truda joins the track team, throws a javelin for the first time, and almost instantly breaks the world record. There's a mysterious switch on the wall of her house that her father keeps building larger and larger boxes around. King is a master manipulator of craft, and the structure here is deconstructed to its bones in a way that feels fascinatingly architectural. This is a book that will burrow you further into your own brain. Incredible. ~ Reviewed by Nadja Tiktinsky

Chains (The Seeds of America Trilogy) by Laurie Halse Anderson - Book Review

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ISBN: 9781416905868
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Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers - January 5th, 2010

The year is 1776, and Isabel and her younger sister, Ruth, are enslaved by a brutal Loyalist couple living in New York. Isabel begins to work as a spy for a group of Patriots, eavesdropping on her enslavers and relaying secret information at risk of her own life. Her perspective as a Black, enslaved child at the time of the Revolutionary War shines blinding light on the fact that there were no "good guys" in this historical conflict, no "good side" to be on. Isabel knows that the white Patriots who are working to create a more equitable society do not consider the abolishment of slavery to be part of that work. Though there is a possibility that she and her sister will be granted freedom in exchange for her espionage, this transaction only drives home the point that, to the architects of America, people of color were not inherently deserving of even the most basic human rights. This intense, powerful book helps readers examine the origins of systemic racism in America and flips the harmful "happy slave" narrative by granting its protagonist agency, tenacity, and fury in great measure. ~ Reviewed by Nadja Tiktinsky

A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat - Book Review

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ISBN: 9781536204940
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Published: Candlewick - March 24th, 2020

A solid-gold fantasy. In this world, light is an expensive commodity, created by one man with both magical and political powers. Pong, who has grown up in dark and dingy Namwon prison, dreams of the time when he'll be able to join the city of light, Chattana. But when he escapes, he finds that the world of light is no fairer than the prison. Nok, the warden's daughter, is bent on tracking Pong down in the name of justice, but as she tails him through Chattana, she uncovers secrets that alter her own views of good and evil. There's enough classic fantasy structure to make this a nostalgic read, yet unexpected twists like a late-in-the-game break into two points of view and parallels to real-world social issues and Taiwanese culture that make it feel completely fresh. ~ Reviewed by Nadja Tiktinsky


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